Republicans say that’s a broken pledge because when lawmakers last locked in a new motor fuels tax floor in a previous session, they promised to let the tax fall back to that point with any future drops in wholesale prices.
“House (Democratic) leadership is punishing our constituents because of our vote on the gas tax,” Carney said earlier Tuesday. He said he felt “disgraced by the process” and said $43 million was removed from his Taylor County district because of his vote.
Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, chairs the budget transportation subcommittee and she defended the plan on the floor during the debate, saying it spread funding across the state and included projects in Republican districts. She also said without freezing the gas tax, the road fund would face a devastating under funding problem.
It also includes $123 million for widening and extending the Mountain Parkway to Prestonsburg. That was actually less than the $129 million proposed by Beshear and the House plan also moves money from the Louisville bridges project and another $38 million from the northern Kentucky Brent Spence Bridge.
Combs said those funds were used to help other areas of the state and the Transportation Cabinet had found other ways to replace some of the money for the bridges projects.
In the end, the measure passed 51-43 with only Republican Jim Steward, R-Flat Lick, joining Democrats in voting for the measure. Democrat Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro, voted against the bill.
The measure now goes to the Republican controlled Senate which is likely to make changes. Like the budget, the road plan will likely end up in conference committee between the two chambers with some sort of compromise bill ultimately passing the legislature.